Category Archives: youth

World Youth Day 2023

Well, what can I say? If there is anything to describe World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon, it would probably be the most difficult reflection I would have to do, and it is likely that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this!

There are no words to describe it! (Joke set aside!)    The experience was like no other… 

Mark Aziz - World Youth Day 2023

This was my second WYD, with the first one being in Krakow in 2016. Some memories of Krakow came into Lisbon; the kindness of people, the cracking theme song (Há Pressa No Ar), and the explosive atmosphere from all pilgrims.

But this time I went with the Community of St John from Forest Gate, London, as it was nearer to Reading where I live, and some of my friends from Youth 2000 (a youth organisation that I volunteer for) were going with them.

Some of us took the direct journey by flight, and the rest went on coach. I decided to take the latter.

Our journey consisted of going to Paris by Eurostar, staying with the Parisian Community of St John for 1 night, and taking a 24hr coach ride all the way to Lisbon.

Once we arrived, we settled into our accommodation, which was a church and a primary school where we were allocated, laying our sleeping bags on the plain floors of the rooms.

Whenever you go on pilgrimage like this one, there will be an element where we have to leave behind the comforts of our daily lives, and settle to what we already have; a hard floor to sleep on, a simple breakfast, and if you are out of luck, faulty cold showers! But critically, the pilgrimage did impact our sleep; every day was more eventful than the previous, particularly if you took the long way to get to Lisbon.

But let’s put these aside, and focus on the best things ever, shall we?

The Community of St John has multiple branches across the world, and we joined forces with New Zealand, New Jersey USA, Canada, and Taiwan. Every day we took turns to celebrate Mass. We were the first to kick off ours on a basketball ground, where we met the other communities and held small groups talking about the environment and how we can be stewards of God’s Earth.

Then we celebrated Mass, using a Mass setting that one of our friends composed himself.
One of the amazing things about WYD is the numerous amount of languages spoken to express the faith, and that was evident with the other Masses. New Zealand’s bidding prayers were responded in Māori, and Taiwan’s Taizé Service alternated between English and Chinese.

Mark Aziz - World Youth Day 2023

The London group have also been working on a play, and performed it for 1 night only. It was called Petro Kibe: Samurai Pilgrim, which is based upon a figure named Bl Petro Kibe, a Japanese young man, telling the story of his 5000 mile journey from Goa to Jerusalem on foot, and setting sail for Portugal to join the Jesuit priesthood. He then made his journey back home to Japan, only to be persecuted by the authorities and a former priest who renounced his faith, but wouldn’t go down that path nor pull up a fight.

As a thespian pretty much most of my life, I took part in the play, and played Petro’s travel companion, and a priest who was the leader of Jesuit community at Rome.

With God’s Grace, it was a massive success, and all the cast enjoyed it so much!

And now the big part… The Masses with Papé Francisco!

Making our way to these was really something! Floods of other pilgrims from all sides of the streets were making their way, with a good number of human trains to keep everyone together! We took inspiration and formed our own train! Find a spot on the field was also tricky, the space needed to be big enough and in the shade.The first service with the Pope was the Stations of the Cross, featuring a performance by amazing dancers, a full orchestra and choir, and poured so many emotions from a lot of people.

But the main event was at a much bigger park to the east, and involved a big walk there, venturing through the steep hills of Lisbon, to reach our new home on the final few days of WYD.

It started with an evening vigil with a lot more performances, from the choir, dancers, and a dazzling drone display. Late at midnight, and small parties were going on, and if there is one nation that can pull off one, it is Mexico! Dozens of people came to dance around the guitarists and drummers, and singing their hearts out of how much enjoyment they have received.
The pilgrimage mercifully and happily came to an end with one final Mass with the Pope, who announced the next WYD in Seoul in 2027.

The theme of this pilgrimage was “Mary arose and went with haste.”
It just goes to show how much energy comes from unity of 1.5 million young Catholics, how much we can learn from them, from cultures, achievements, struggles, and their trade of energy. I see this trade as something that makes the WYD experience very worthwhile, and speaking of trades, there is tradition every WYD to trade souvenirs from each other’s countries.

At the end of the final Mass, a pilgrim from Panama approached me to trade her Panama T shirt with my Wales shirt, and after a bit of deliberation we made the trade!

Mark Aziz - World Youth Day 2023

It shows how connected we are, with a variety of perspectives all referring back to the bigger picture of our faith in Christ. He took 12 spiritually broken men to call them His disciples, and at that moment He called all of us as we were; striving and struggling Catholics.

As we journey together towards our Heavenly Home, let’s reflect on what we are doing refers back to the big picture of our faith, whether it is a striving path or a struggling path, and offer it to Him, whether it will be in the Sacrament of Confession or the Eucharist.
No matter how big or small we got from this experience of World Youth Day, we pray that we’ll put this grace into action and let it transform us.

Thank you so much for reading

God bless you

Mark Aziz

Editor: for more details of World Youth Day 2023 visit the website at


Pope Francis with 1 million young people… in 10 quotes

August 2nd
”I am happy to be in Lisbon, a city of encounter that embraces various peoples and cultures and that, in these days, becomes, in a certain way, the capital of the world.“ (Belem Cultural Centre)

“We dream of the Portuguese Church as a ‘safe harbour’ for those facing the journeys, shipwrecks, and storms of life!” (Belem Jerónimos Monastery)

August 3rd
“Search and take risks.” (Portuguese Catholic University)

“In the Church, there is room for everyone. And when there isn’t, please let’s make room, even for those who make mistakes, for those who fall, for those who feel difficulty. Everyone, everyone, everyone.” (Congregation repeated “Todos! Todos! Todos!”) Welcome Ceremony

August 4th
“Concrete love. It’s what dirties your hands.” (Serafina Parish Centre)

“Are there things in life that make us cry? We all cry in life, but He cries with us, accompanies us in the darkness we carry inside.” (Stations of the Cross)

August 5th
“The Church has no doors, so that everyone can enter.” (Sanctuary of Fátima)

“The only opportunity, the only time it is lawful to look down on someone is when we help someone to get up.” (Prayer Night Vigil)

August 6th
“Be ‘surfboarders of love’!” (Lisbon Meeting with Volunteers)

“Do not be afraid! Do not fear! Cheer up!” (Final Sending Mass)

Catholic Youth

The Catholic Youth Sunday evening socials will be starting up again at the Cornerstone from Sunday 30 May. This is a wonderful opportunity for young Catholic parishioners to meet others of the same age across our parishes and realise they are not living the Catholic faith by themselves. Please help spread the word.

For more information contact Fr Nick Williams

Cardiff Young Catholics - Meeting for a socially distanced end of month social at the Cornerstone ‘Pantry’, Charles Street (opposite the Cathedral). For Catholics aged 18-35. Sunday 30 May 2021 at 7.30pm.
Cardiff Young Catholics

“I believe in the holy catholic church”

World Youth Day 2016 (part 1)

Here Allen, one of our two young people at the recent World Youth Day, tells us about the experience….

When I set out to Krakow along with the diocesan team of 37 on 19th July, I honestly wondered what was in store. Indeed, the World Youth Day was remarkable in several ways. Imagine 3 million hands raised to heaven calling out ‘Our Father’!
At Bialystok where we spent the first four days, we explored the city and met many World Youth Day pilgrims. We attended a welcome Mass celebrated by the local bishop, which was followed by a procession from the stairs of the cathedral to a church dedicated to Jesus’ Divine Mercy. During this walk we sang hymns, prayed and met people from all over the world; an experience to cherish for ever.

Whilst visiting the church of St. Anthony of Padua, we observed a red dot in the host exposed for adoration. In fact in 2009, while the parish priest was saying Mass, he accidentally dropped the host on the floor. He put the host in a bowl of water and left it locked away in the chapel which only he and a senior nun had access to. After 3 days, they expected the host to have dissolved. However, they were very surprised to see that instead of dissolving, it developed a red dot in the middle. Immediately, the parish priest informed his bishop and eventually they sent it for testing to a lab. The investigations revealed that the red dot consisted of a small piece of heart muscle which had undergone extreme pain and it was AB type blood. Even though I have heard of many Eucharist miracles, it is the first time I have come so close to one. The sheer sight of it had an intense effect on me that is difficult to express in words.

More than 1.5 million people attended the opening Mass. It was a spectacular sight which proved to be a real reminder of how universal and rich the Catholic Church is, and that we are not alone in our journey. Although we affirm our faith in the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in every creed, we often do not realise that we do so along with a billion people. (to be continued…)

Allen Mathew

World Youth Day 2016

World Youth Day is taking place in Krakow, Poland, from 25 – 31 July, and we have two representatives there flying the flag for Cardiff and our 3 Churches – Mark Aziz and Allan Mathew! WYD events have been celebrated for three decades. In 1986, Pope St John Paul II began the tradition in St Peter’s Square, Rome, with a global youth celebration to which the entire Church was invited. Now, three decades later, Pope Francis will open the 21st gathering of what has become a worldwide youth phenomenon – the opportunity for a million plus Catholics to celebrate their faith with the Holy Father. Mark and Allan will tell us about their experience when they come back! Meanwhile here is the official World Youth Day Prayer…

“God, merciful Father, in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman. We entrust to you in a special way young people of every language, people and nation: guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.

Heavenly Father, grant that we may bear witness to your mercy. Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt, hope to those who are discouraged, love to those who feel indifferent, forgiveness to those who have done wrong and joy to those who are unhappy. Allow the spark of merciful love that you have enkindled within us become a fire that can transform hearts and renew the face of the earth.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us. Saint John Paul II, pray for us.”

Fr Matthew

3CY – Three Churches Youth

3 Churches Youth Logo

On Sunday 17th April 2016 we are launching a new Youth Group for Yr7 and Yr8 here in our 3 Churches, and we don’t want anyone to miss out on what will be an amazing experience.
Once you go to High school, parish life can seem to stop, apart from Confirmation. We are launching this new youth group because we really value our young people, and we know that they have so much to give.

The vision of 3CY, rooted in our Catholic faith, is inspired by Pope Francis’s letter “Laudato si” where he asks us to care for each other and for our common home. The idea is to have fun, make new friends, have a great time. But also to talk about real topics, take action on real issues and use our gifts and talents to make real change. Friendly and informal, with games and refreshments, there will be talks, videos and discussion, maybe walks and trips, music and drama, prayer services and Mass.

So we invite our young people to come along and take ownership of this group. It’s all yours!
Where? CTK Primary School Hall. When? 6.30pm – 8.00pm Sundays in term time from 17th April.
Adults young and older – to volunteer in any capacity and at any commitment level, contact Helen McSherry or 07720 053999
Twitter @3ChurchesYouth

REFLECTION after Communion this weekend. Use it at home too…

Lord Jesus Christ
you came to call sinners
and offer complete forgiveness and salvation for all.
Give me the grace to feel you alongside me in my sinfulness;
to sense your understanding and encouragement.
Help me to acknowledge my sin –
but to trust in your unending mercy and compassion.
Teach me not to judge others,
nor to condemn them,
but to offer the hand of support and friendship and place mercy at the centre of my life. Amen